Listen. I know it was two months ago. In fact, it is now SUMMER BREAK. But I have been wanting to blog about this trip and just simply have not had the time thanks to baseball. So I’m doing it now. I’m pregnant, I’ll write what I want.
Historically, we have stayed close to home during Spring Break. Josh always has to work that week, and due to finances and there being only one of me, we have had our big Spring Break fun within driving distance of the house…with the exception of our annual pilgrimage to Eric and Jackie’s for a Braves Spring Training game over one of the weekends of Spring Break.
This year, everything changed! It all started when Jackie casually mentioned (possibly a few years ago) that she had a vision of the two of us taking our kids on a road trip like Big Mama and Gulley do every year. I was definitely up for an adventure, and I realized that we would need to do it soon, as I have a vehicle that seats 8. She has 2 kids and I have 4…which meant for us to be able to ride in the same vehicle together, we would need to do it before one of us had another baby!
At some point last year, I said, “Hey, if we don’t set a date for this trip, we’ll never do it! How about Spring Break next year?” And Jackie agreed.
AND THEN, the Harrells decided to move very close to the Coyles! So of course we immediately extended the invitation for Spring Break fun to Cynthia and her kiddos.
AND THEN, I found out that the Wallers’ Spring Break was going to line up with ours. Peyton does competitive gymnastics, so it is rare that she gets a break during the school year. I decided to capitalize on this and extend our road trip even further.
Now, this was going to mean A LOT of driving and decision making and such all on my own. (I mean, I would have my kids, but you know what I mean.) The prospect of this has in the past kept me home. I would listen to other moms talk about how they road trip with their kids by themselves and I would think, I just don’t know how they DO that. You know what I realized this year? We can do this!
What are the scariest things about road trips as the solo adult? I’ll be straight up that I have 2 big fears: car trouble and the logistics of public restrooms with children. This year I realized…Hey, we have Triple A! and also, Hey, I have a 10 year old that can help with the bathroom situation! When I realized that some of my past concerns were no longer a big deal, I changed my thought process to we want to go somewhere…so let’s go somewhere!
We started off our trip after church on Sunday. It happened to be a pretty cold snap up here in north Georgia, so I was more than happy to drive south!
And here’s what my thermometer read once we reached Florida…
We kicked our week off by spending two nights at the Wallers. Alesha and I planned to do some fun, outdoorsy things with them, but then it rained pretty much the whole time. And honestly, it was the best! Alesha and I got to literally sit around and visit the WHOLE TIME without feeling guilty for not taking the kids places, and you know what? Our kids had SO MUCH fun being together that they didn’t really care where they were, anyway!
It was so good to just hang out in our PJs without anything else on our plates! And I’m not lying when I say that there were real tears, particularly on Egan’s part, when it was time to pull out Tuesday afternoon. However…
…the cold snap had hit Tallahassee, so it was time to drive further south!
We drove that night to the Daytona area to meet up with Jackie! We got there just in time for dinner and to bathe the kids and prepare for the next days’ adventure!
Cynthia met us Wednesday morning, and we started driving further south! (Had to, I don’t have a picture, but the temperature was dropping again!) Of course, our first stop was the Golden Arches…
Road trip usie!
And after a few hours we had arrived as far south we were going to go: Royal Palm Beach. (I learned that West Palm Beach…Royal Palm Beach…Palm Beach…it all kind of runs together.) This was the point that I realized…Hey, I’m 12 hours from home. I sure hope nothing bad happens!
A few months prior to the trip, I had scoured the internet looking for a place that was big enough for us to stay in AND was something we could afford AND wasn’t booked…during Spring Break! I was really hoping to find a hotel with a big suite…but Google kept bringing me back to AirBNB. I had never done AirBNB before, and it sounded a little scary at first, but after reading a gazillion reviews I figured this must be a real thing. Which led us to finding a 5 bedroom house in Royal Palm Beach which, with the cost split between 3 families, which came out to $50 per night per family…I know, I thought it couldn’t be real at first, either! Also, our host was great (he was not actually there but was very communicative,) and he made it clear that his casa was also our casa. I was very surprised considering the fact that he knew how many children we had with us!
And at this point I must apologize to my sweet friends. From here on out, all of the group pictures I have are of the kiddos. I totally failed on getting pictures with Jackie and Cynthia. Love you, girls!
Once we arrived at “our” house, we decided that this would be the night that we eat a “fancy” dinner. We internet searched for waterfront dining that is kid friendly, and we ended up picking the Old Key Lime House.
Cynthia’s family had just purchased a 12 passenger van in preparation for their upcoming adoption (yay!!!), so we decided to load all the car seats into the Party Bus for all of our driving around the Palm Beach area.
(This picture doesn’t do it justice; I was sitting in the first row of passenger seats, so keep in mind it has 4 rows of seats!)
We arrived at the restaurant to discover there would be a two and a half hour wait. Not exactly what we had in mind, but we were on vacation, why not?!
SO, that’s a long time to wait for 8 kids, and the temp was seriously dropping as the sun got lower. (WHY is the cold snap always over Spring Break???) But we made the best of it and checked out the waterfront…
…and had the children take their first group picture…
…and spent some quality time with this guy!
And it was finally time to eat!
Considering the fact that we had spent so long at this establishment, I felt like it was only right to try their specialty!
I blame all the key lime pie cravings I’ve had this pregnancy on this piece of pie!
We made it back to “our” house, much later than expected, and I think we had all crashed in a few minutes!
Thursday was our day at the Lion Country Safari, which is the whole reason we picked the Palm Beach area!
First, we drove through the safari…
(That’s an ostrich pecking on windows!)
Then we found a grassy area by the parking lot and filled the kids up with peanut butter sandwiches and various snacks.
Then we did the walkabout portion of the park!
We got to see a snake enjoying its lunch…
And visit some aviaries…
(This girl is a little bird crazy right now!)
And then a special bonus: RIDES! In addition to all things animals, the park also had some amusement park rides (at no extra cost!) And since it was not crowded AT ALL, the kids could do them as much as they wanted!
Arrow’s favorite was the Merry Go Round.
Even though it was still pretty chilly, the water features were open, and my boys (plus Aurora) who have no nerve endings were able to hit the water slides over and over again!
We put in a full day at Lion Country Safari and ate dinner at ChikFilA on the way back to “our” house. And then we stuck the kids in front of a movie because we all needed to chill out a little bit!
Friday also happened to be St. Patrick’s Day, which is not the easiest day to celebrate on the road, but Jackie had us covered!
That morning we packed up and locked up “our” house, and headed towards what my kids had been waiting on all week: THE BEACH.
Not really knowing what beaches were good in the area, I just found the closest state park that had nice pictures, which is how we ended up driving down A1A on our way to John D. Macarthur State Park.
As we were unloading 8 kids and all of their beach paraphernalia out of the car, a lady drove by with a limousine golf cart and offered to give us a ride to the beach. We explained that we couldn’t leave right that minute, seeing how it takes about an hour to unload so many children and things, and the lady drove off in search for others wanting a ride. I think we were all thinking, It can’t be that far, anyway.
Which is where we were wrong. It was far. To get to the Atlantic, we first had to cross an inlet of water on a boardwalk. Which was very pretty. And pretty far for little legs. But it was all part of the adventure, and when we finally arrived at our destination, it did not disappoint!
The water was COLD, and we were amazed that our kids could stay in it for hours. The waves were pretty rough, so they did not venture out, but spent the whole time trying to jump over waves. We watched in fascination, placing bets on who we thought would last in the water the longest.
Jackie with the littles, who preferred sand play!
Arrow assessing the situation!
It really was just so beautiful and pretty much the essence of SPRING BREAK!
Here we are heading back on the boardwalk!
It was late when we arrived back at the Coyles’ house that night, and in fact, Josh beat us there! I can’t say that I did this trip totally alone because it worked out where Josh could catch a flight down to Daytona on Friday night, spend Saturday with us, and ride back with us on Sunday! It was so nice having him for the leg of the journey I knew I would be the most tired!
So Saturday, we were able to continue our tradition with the Coyles and go to a Braves Spring Training game!!! And really, Jackie and I both agreed that it was the easiest and most enjoyable trip to a game we’ve ever had. Since my oldest 3 play baseball now, they were actually interested in the game, our seats were in the shade almost the whole time, and the Littles seemed to be ok with eating frozen lemonade and snacks and stayed fairly calm!
And that was that! Sunday was the looooong trip back home, and then we jumped right back into school and work and baseball!
I am just so thankful we got to do this trip (hence the blog post 2 months later!) Not only was it just a great time, but it also kind of represents a milestone in parenting. We now have bigger kids, and part of that means we can do some things that were just too daunting to try when they were little. (Yes, I still have some littles, but it’s just different when you have big kids to help!)
So here’s to a new season of life, to great friends who are worth travelling to see, to Florida, and to SPRING BREAK!